Youth Center addresses bullying, showcases talent
(From left) APG Youth Center students Keshawn Gardner and Jyree Ivory, both 7, perform Michael Jackson impersonations during Family Night Nov. 12.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Anti-bully campaigns are increasingly gaining nationwide attention from the media, parents and government officials.

Members of the APG Youth Center joined the effort Nov. 12 when they held a Family Night dinner to raise awareness about bullying and its effects on children.

"Bullying is a very hot topic right now," said Youth Center Program Manager Karen Johnson. "We have no tolerance for it here at the center.

"Our message is simple: We don't harvest bullies here; we harvest character," said Johnson. "During a recent 4H meeting, we were sitting down talking to the kids, and I was telling them about Taylor Swift's song, 'Mean.' I asked them to pay attention to the lyrics because Swift was bullied, and she's telling young kids what to do about it."

The evening's theme was "Families Taking a Stand Against Bullying," and the gathering also served as an opportunity for children to showcase some of their skills during performances that ranged from singing and dancing to a magic show and poem recitals.

"We wanted to make the parents feel special," said Johnson, who organized the event and decorated the gym to look like a theater.

Before the children performed, parents were treated to slideshow presentations and discussions about bullying.

"We talked about gender differences because girls bully differently than boys," explained Johnson. "We asked for audience participation and asked parents what they were going to do to prevent this type of behavior."

Johnson said she plans to continue to raise awareness about bullying with the children at the center, but she also plans to teach them about obesity and the importance of staying active.

"We're also planning to have a dinner disco night," she said.

For more information about bullying or the Youth Center, call Johnson at 410-278-4992.

Page last updated Tue November 29th, 2011 at 16:11